There is good news, bad news and worse news for the New York Rangers. First, the good news is that they finally scored a couple goals on Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The bad news is that 2 goals wasn’t enough as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin seem to be heating up. The worse news is that now down 3-1 in the series, the Rangers need to win 3 straight against the Pittsburgh Penguins to stay alive, with 2 of those games in Pittsburgh.
Malkin opened the scoring early in the first after Crosby picked off a clearing pass and the duo played give and go. It looked like a bobbled pass to Malkin had ended the threat but his blind backhander got through the pads of Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers got even just over 5 minutes into the second when Ryan McDonagh sprung Carl Hagelin in full flight through the neutral zone. Hagelin split the Penguins defense and put a wrist shot over thse shoulder of Fleury for the Rangers first goal since the OT winner in game 1, a span of 145 minutes and 30 seconds.
The turning point came on an Evgeni Malkin penalty late in the second period. Kris Letang denied the Rangers entry into the Pittsburgh zone, whacking the puck away to Brian Gibbons who went in on a breakaway. He lost the puck trying to make a deke on Lundqvist, but Brandon Sutter was the first to the puck and with the Rangers goalie following Gibbons and out of position, Sutter had a tap in for the shorthanded goal.
Jussi Jokinen scored on a spin-around shot that got through Lundqvist seven minutes into the third to put the Rangers up by 2. Mats Zuccarello put a short backhander through Fleury to give the Rangers some hope with just under 7 minutes to play, but Crosby and Malkin set up Chris Kunitz less than a minute later for a wide open slapshot and the insurance marker that broke the Rangers spirit and drew the ire of the hometown fans.
The win moves the Pittsburgh Penguins within a game of advancing to the Eastern Conference final.
The Rangers looked tired and didn’t have much push back. The 7 games in 10 days caught up with them, and even Lundqvist looked exhausted and the Malkin and Jokinen goals don’t go in on a rested goalie.
In a playoff where 2 day rests between games is almost commonplace at least once in a series, the Rangers have no such luck as they are back at it on Friday night in Pittsburgh.